Michael Sheen says cancel culture discussion distracts from ‘real dangers’

Actor said talking about the issue is a ‘waste of time’

Ellie Harrison
Friday 17 December 2021 13:08
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Michael Sheen tells Owen Jones why he handed back his OBE

Michael Sheen has criticised the amount of airtime “cancel culture” is given in the media.

In an interview with The Independent, the actor, 52, argued that talking about the issue is “a waste of time”.

The Welsh star said: “That’s all you read about now. For every column that’s about cancel culture, there’s one fewer for real dangers and unfairnesses.

“The idea that being aware of social issues and aware of the injustices done to certain people, both historically and in the present, the idea that that gets labelled as woke and then is used as a pejorative, it just makes it so easy for people on the right, doesn’t it?”

He added that the discussion is “like microwave dinners as politics”.

Sheen can next be seen in the time-travel fantasy film, Last Train to Christmas, as Tony Towers, a Nottingham wideboy and nightclub owner who finds himself transported to various stages in his life as he moves up and down the carriages of a train. The festive comedy premieres on Sky Cinema on Saturday 18 December.

Michael Sheen pictured at the premiere of ‘Dolittle’ in January 2020

The new role comes off the back of his part as the imprisoned serial killer Dr Martin Whitly in season two of thS procedural drama Prodigal Son.

His other most famous roles include playing Sixties TV host David Frost in Frost/Nixon and the angel Aziraphale in Good Omens.

Last year, Sheen revealed that he had handed back the OBE he was awarded in 2009.

The actor was given the Order of the British Empire at the New Year’s Honours for his services to drama.

The decision was prompted by his extensive research into Welsh history, a “crash course” that he had taken on after being asked to speak at the Learning and Work Institutes annual Raymond William Memorial Lecture in November 2017.

“In my research to do that lecture, I learnt a lot about Welsh history,” he said, “and by the time I’d finished writing that lecture, I remember sitting there going, ‘Well I have a choice: I either don’t give this lecture and hold on to my OBE or I give this lecture and I have to give my OBE back.’”

Sheen added that he had realised he would have been a “hypocrite” if he were to keep the award and still give the lecture about “the nature of the relationship between Wales and the British state, and the history of it”.

Elsewhere in Sheen’s interview with The Independent, he discussed Boris Johnson’s leadership, becoming a “not-for-profit” actor and Last Train to Christmas.

Read the full interview on Saturday 18 December.

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